By Shannon Beckermann - Bushel
There are a couple different strategies that businesses need to balance when they’re setting a budget for their internal departments. Sometimes company leaders might invest more on the production side of the business to improve efficiency with new tools and training. Other times, they might allocate more capital to sales and marketing to grow the customer base. While these departments are certainly worth investing in, more organizations are choosing to set money aside for a new class of internal development: the customer success department.
Customer centricity as a business model
“Getting customers to believe you’re there to help them means you have to genuinely think like them and speak their language. The tools and enablement strategies you leverage in your organization need to reflect a buyer-centric approach,” wrote David Premier, VP, Sales of Influitive in a blog for Salesforce.
This approach to “customer-centricity” Premier outlines is deeply rooted in active efforts and strategies, instead of empty sentiments many companies fall victim to. Technology companies budgeting for customer success departments are finding that customer success is critical to the business’s actual success.
THE IMPORTANCE OF A HUMAN CONNECTION IN AG
While technology companies are among the first to adopt the customer-first approach into their internal team building, it should come as no surprise that agribusinesses who also take a customer-first approach are at the forefront of the industry. In agriculture it matters to know who you are doing business with and that there will be someone genuinely there along the way to help. According to a McKinsey & Company research report, agribusiness customers crave a human connection. The study revealed that overall, “When it comes to channels, farmers don’t want either–or; they want both.”
The study further proved farmers’ rooted loyalty to human interaction in business and communication. Farmers prefer human interaction over digital interaction at two main points along the customer buying journey. During a first-time purchase 67% of farmers prefer to buy in-person, and 78% desire human help when troubleshooting.
These insights pertaining to grower business preferences set up an equation for two things. First, emerging technology companies, particularly software-as-a-service (SaaS) companies, are seeing direct impact in ROI and under churn by integrating indispensable customer-centric components into their businesses. The second part of the equation is revealed specifically by agribusinesses; the desire for human interactions in a business partner is a request that can’t be ignored. Increased ROI and grower preferences for human-to-human facilitation are direct evidence for the demand for customer-centric teams in ag tech companies – like Bushel.
CULTIVATING A CUSTOMER SUCCESS TEAM
It begins with a why, and the why behind the creation of Bushel’s Customer Success Team starts with filling holes. The product to market to sales to support chain is a very linear path that showcases a hand off of a baton. The 20-foot view of this process seems effective until you get closer. Who is the representative for the customer? What happens when there’s a question after the sale, how does the integration process go into development?
“While we strongly believe every employee plays a role in customer service, it’s not efficient to have customers contacting your highly technical (and often expensive) departments when many of the questions they have for these employees can often be answered by a customer success team. There should never be a need for a customer to navigate your company hierarchy on their own”
What happens when customers are forced to navigate the company hierarching? Frustration and confusion which lead to unpleasant experiences. Kristen Baker of Hubspot said, “To ensure [customers are] not sitting on the phone on-hold or awaiting your response to their inquiry, empower your customers through education about your product.”
Education begins with a single contact for customers to communicate, learn, and build a relationship with. Camille Grade, VP of Marketing and Customer Experience at Bushel expands more on the importance of each customer having a go-to success advocate saying, “Relationships are paramount in agriculture. A major factor in creating our customer service management team was having that relationship focused on service after the sale.”
Bushel’s Director of Customer Experience, Benny Andres, adds towards the key in relationship building between a customer success team and their customers, “We understood that there needed to be something put in place to take care of them long-term.” The golden phrase in Andres’ statement: long-term.
“Relationships are paramount in agriculture. A major factor in creating our customer service management team was having that relationship focused on service after the sale.” – CAMILLE GRADE, VP OF MARKETING & CUSTOMER SUCCESS, BUSHEL
The benefits of ag tech companies like Bushel adopting the customer success strategy are seen clearly through the statistics on low customer churn, high customer retention, and overall customer loyalty. But what exactly does a customer get out of a customer success team?
What customers get out of having a customer success team
To Bushel, customer success is not a vague concept of a generally satisfied customer. Rather, we have specific practices to proactively ensure a grain merchandiser is engaging the full potential of their Bushel-powered App or Website. Here are a just a few examples of what you can expect from a Bushel dedicated Customer Success Team:
- Onboarding assistance
- Troubleshooting management
- Regular check-ins
- Physical visits on-site
- Real time assistance in email, phone call, Zoom, and text
- Complimentary marketing assistance for your white labeled app
These components of success that Bushel’s Customer Success Team works towards are not “nice to have” soft selling points, but rather real, impactful post-sell actions and resources that dictate a path for true success on the Bushel platform.
“There is a difference between customer service and customer success,” Andres said. “Customer service tends to only be reactive, replying only to a client when there is a problem and only maintaining contact with them until the issue is somewhat resolved. That’s why our team is called a customer success team. We believe in the success of customers and being proactive before troubles arise and doing so much more.”
“I haven’t seen a support system work better in any industry. You guys are top of the line. It’s nice to know that Bushel cares and is on top of the problems our growers run into.” – A BUSHEL-POWERED CUSTOMER
One of Bushel’s actual platform customers recounts their experience since having a Customer Success Manager: “Before, I would be talking with multiple people about different issues and have to constantly be managing them and checking in on them constantly to make sure that things were getting done. Now, with my customer success manager, she has been doing a great job assisting me and taking a good portion of this work load off of my shoulders. Thank you for providing such a quality employee to look over our account.” For Bushel, this customer’s positive and productive experience after having their own Customer Success Manager is exactly what drives our team to do more.
SUCCESS LONG AFTER THE SALE IS MADE
Since we set out to build digital infrastructure for the ag industry, Bushel has always been a customer-minded company–– dare we say, “customer-obsessed.” By approaching business through the lens of providing the highest quality service, Bushel is able to look at our customers as more than just users of Bushel products. Our customers are the heroes of their own stories; their success is our priority and our truest measure of excellence.
Once aboard the Bushel platform, customers rest easy knowing that they have a go-to Customer Success Manager there for their agribusiness and anything they might need along the way.